Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

This week has been my last at CPPP, and even though I am excited about my move to DC and what lies ahead, I am a little sorry to be leaving so soon. I’ve gotten to work on some pretty cool projects at CPPP, and have learned a lot, both about the technical aspects of my job (video/audio editing, grant proposal writing, managing a web site, etc), and about the policy areas that our analysts work on.

Earlier today, we had one of the last CPPP events that I’ll be a part of, a Kids Count briefing highlighting new numbers on national child well-being from the Annie E. Casey Foundation (they aren’t good). We got quite a bit of coverage, and even though the event was a last-minute affair, we were still able to get about 150 people to show up. State Rep. Mark Strama and his wife, Crystal Cotti, delivered introductory remarks, and after the presentation, they joined our policy analysts onstage to field questions. The discussion pretty quickly gravitated towards state budget issues, mainly what state officials and anti-poverty advocates can do to prevent deep budget cuts that could prove harmful to education, health care, nutrition, and other state programs that drive down child poverty. After one question, Strama went on a bit of a tangent and made an encouraging observation that I thought was worthwhile. Luckily, I had my audio recorder rolling up on Strama’s podium, and I’ve posted the audio here.


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My latest piece for the Observer, about the dispute over renaming Simkins dormitory, is now online!

Two public forums to inform an advisory committee to make a recommendation to the actual decision-makers might be the university’s version of expedient action, or they might be looking for some bureaucratic intestine where they can send this controversy to wither and die. Even at its very best, though, the dispute is still just a pressure valve, one that takes the pressure that has built up against prolonged, sustained injustice and diverts it into purely symbolic measures.

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This morning on the Texas Tribune’s front page:

The story is simple enough: Texas is facing a budget deficit of somewhere between $12 billion-$18 billion, and the big three in our state government (Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, House Speaker Joe Straus) want to cut our way out of the hole. They have already applied a “no new taxes” pledge to this session’s budget-writing process.

For the state to cut its way out of the hole, though, we’d have to start closing prisons or schools or, as Straus has obliquely suggested, withdraw our state from Medicaid.

The impressively jowly Talmadge Heflin has quite a history in this debate: in 2003, he was the chairman of Texas’ House Appropriations Committee when the legislature came up against a $10 billion deficit. The budget that Heflin and Perry pushed has since resulted in a disastrous experiment in privatizing state services (which ended up costing more money than it saved), more than 350,000 children cut from the State Children’s Health Insurance program, and a broken eligibility determination system for public services that will likely wind up landing Texas in court.

In the likely event that Perry, Dewhurst and Straus are all re-elected in November, and the legislature continues to be GOP-dominated, 2011 will be a replay of 2003, except worse.

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Reading the comments sections of online news articles almost always gets me down: glad to hear that I’m not the only one.

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This past week was an exciting one at CPPP, for a couple of reasons. One: we took a road trip to Houston, which was a nice change of pace from the daily office routine. Two: cppp.org has seen the early stages of an infusion of multimedia content. The idea is that a short video or audio recording explaining a policy issue will be more engaging than a long, technical, footnote-heavy policy page on the subject.

With that in mind, I bought an audio recording of some testimony that our tax analyst, Dick Lavine, delivered this past week, edited it down, and posted it on the website alongside the powerpoint presentation that he gave to the committee members. This way, visitors can listen to the recording while they follow along with the visual presentation, kind of the same way that I remember the librarian at my elementary school reading to us from picture books while playing a recording (on actual vinyl!) of background sounds and music. Except about the merits of a state income tax.

Posting is here.

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… will the Texas Film Commission’s morality police give a tax incentive to Robert Rodriguez’s “revenge fantasy for illegal immigrants?”

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I have said many times before that one of the most amusing parts of my weekly routine is the Monday afternoon editorial meeting at the Texas Observer. The conversations are usually localized around the quirks and excesses of Texas politics and culture, and they inevitably deviate into something unrelated but interesting.

This week (admittedly, not a Texas phenomena): squirrel melts.

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